NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Hot Competition for College Admissions

June 14, 1999

The college application season just ended was the most competitive in the nation's history, school administrators report. What's more, the competition will only intensify over the next decade.

The trend is fueled by a larger proportion of high school graduates seeking entry into college, as well as an increase in the population of those who are of college age.

  • The number of students enrolled in four-year institutions of higher education is at an all-time high -- 14.8 million registered for this fall versus 14.6 million in fall 1998.
  • Sixty-seven percent of this year's high school graduates intend to enter college, compared to 50 percent in 1977.
  • When the last baby boomers reached college age in 1997, the number taking the S.A.T.'s was about 980,000 -- but more than 1,300,000 are taking the tests this year.
  • The number of children enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade is at an all-time high and is expected to grow through 2008.

As a result, top high school seniors are being rejected by colleges of their choice, second-tier institutions are being overwhelmed by excellent applicants and state universities are raising admission requirements.

Source: Ethan Bronner, "For '99 College Applicants, Stiffest Competition Ever," New York Times, June 12, 1999.


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